This four-to-five page essay consists of four parts:
1. Writing a classic funnel paragraph introduction
2. Writing an analytical paragraph about Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks
3. Writing a multi-paragraph analysis of a poem based on that work of art
4. Writing a concluding paragraph that returns to your thesis and develops it.
1. Writing the introduction
The classic introductory paragraph is the FUNNEL PARAGRAPH, which starts off with a broad idea, narrows from subject area to topic, and ends with the thesis. The THESIS restates the topic in sentence form and makes an assertion or states an opinion.
Here is an example of a (slightly modified) funnel paragraph taken from our text, Literature and the Writing Process:
Writers frequently find inspiration in what they see—the beauty of nature, the energy of a city street, the image of an odd stranger or the message of a work of art. Each writer’s interpretation of a work of art is highly individual because each of us sees through the lens of our own experience. In her Poem “American Literature,” Lisel Mueller describes this process of poetic interpretation as she ponders Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (564).
Note that this introductory paragraph states the title of the work of art and the poem and ends with a thesis statement that explains how the poet responds to the painting.
2. Writing about a work of art
The first body paragraph of your paper will consist of a close analysis of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and may resemble your in-class draft.
3. Writing about a poem based on a work of art
The remainder of your paper will consist of your analysis of one of the poems inspired by Hopper’s painting: Samuel Yellen’s “Nighthawks” or Susan Ludvigson’s “Inventing My Parents.”
You must support your analysis with concrete details. Be sure to quote the poem, indicating the line numbers in parentheses. For example:
In the first stanza of Susan Ludvigson’s “Inventing My Parents,” the poet’s mother “says she imagines [the American Dream] a hawk/flying over, its shadow sweeping every town” (9-11).
You should organize your analysis of the poem by following the poem’s organization. In your first draft you should write a short paragraph about each stanza. During your revision process, you may discover that several stanzas address similar ideas and choose to write about those ideas in a single paragraph.
4. Writing the conclusion
The final step consists of writing a conclusion. Generally you should return to your thesis and develop it. You should not repeat your thesis verbatim, nor should you merely summarize your paper. You may wish to develop ideas about the relationship between art and poetry in general. Or you may wish to reflect on the specific ways that the poem affected your own understanding of the painting.